On my list of jaw-dropping names who people refused to believe have never actually come out — including Richard Simmons and Rip Taylor — was Barry Manilow.
Manilow, 73, has not been hiding too deeply in the closet, but even though he started his career accompanying Bette Midler at NYC's gay baths, he had never, ever come out professionally, publicly.
In a new People Magazine profile, Manilow — who writes the songs that make the whole world sing, including the gays — says that when news leaked (thanks to fellow Republican Suzanne Somers!) that he had married his partner Garry Kief, it catalyzed his coming-out:
“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything,” says Manilow. Turns out, “When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”
Manilow's explanation for never having come out before is rooted in his fierce desire for privacy. I'm glad he got over that enough to make it official. He's no Harvey Milk, God knows so few public figures are, but it's always a positive thing when a famous person comes out.